3.3AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
Is it possible to honestly recommend a beer that you really don’t enjoy? That’s how I feel about Weyerbacher Insanity – a highly-rated imperial beer that’s very complex and well-crafted despite the fact it didn’t impress me that much. This is one of those rare instances in which my respect and appreciation for the craftsmanship outweighs my personal taste.
This beer is basically just Weyerbacher’s “Blithering Idiot” (a barleywine) aged in bourbon barrels to give it an even more intense taste and potency.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Since this beer is so thick (literally), it flows out of the bottle like motor oil with some glugs at first, but quickly smoothens out. Its complexion is that of rusty water with an extremely cloudy, dark amber/light brown body. It produces a fairly small, tan, foamy head which leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma is very strong with an abundance of malts present in the nose. Alcohol is also detectable, but matched quite well by a rich, malty, fruity scent.
There’s nothing more important to a beer’s makeup than its taste. As nice as a smooth finish and proportionate body are, if a beer doesn’t taste good everything else is rather moot, no? Weyerbacher Insanity is one of those rare beers that walks a fine line between acquired taste and just plain tasteless.
This beer is a barleywine after all, so it’s not surprising the first and predominate flavor is rich maltiness. There’s also a distinct dark fruit characteristics to be found here including raisin and plum, although I’d say vanilla is the most notable natural ingredient. These flavors are all available on the initial sip, but quickly take a backseat to a dry and warm taste of alcohol.
One of the reason I don’t like imperial beers is because of their liquor-like taste. If I wanted something harder I’d drink it to begin with. Weyerbacher Insanity, to me, tastes like one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. Yes there is a lot of flavor to be savored, but it doesn’t change the fact pure alcohol is not only noticeable, but potent as well.
It’s rare I can describe a beer as “thick” but that’s true this time around. Drinking this beer is akin to maple syrup right out of the bottle. It’s a viscous liquid to be sure, although it is rather soft in the mouth and easy on the palate. There’s a very distinct taste of alcohol in the finish and a similar aftertaste, but despite all this, Weyerbacher Insanity is surprisingly drinkable.
The numbers say it all: at 11.1% ABV, how heavy do you think this beer will feel? I suppose it’s illogical to criticize a big beer like this for its girth and density, since it definitely will take a toll after one 12oz bottle. However, in this instance that’s just par for the course so to call it a hefty beer is stating the obvious. It is proportional, and that’s what really matters.
Without a doubt Weyerbacher Insanity is an acquired taste, and even though I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of it, I can appreciate it for it is. It’s a very complex palate just bursting with flavor, despite the fact it’s as heavy and strong as an ox. Maltheads will likely love this beer, but anyone that enjoys a crafty brew will find it surprisingly drinkable.